Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades have come together for a second time as the duo Shaw-Blades in order to pay homage to the songs that have influenced the directions they have each taken with their own musical careers, by releasing the eleven-track deep album, Influence.
In a press release accompanying the album’s release, Shaw and Blades sum up the thoughts behind getting back together after the 1995 release of Hallucination.
“As writers, we’re like two old friends who finish each other’s sentences,” explains Shaw. “We became best friends as a result of the music and the experiences we’ve had because of it.” But Influence isn’t about the experiences of Shaw-Blades, it’s about the inspiration that helped create the experiences.”
Whether the songs are faithfully recreated, as is the case with Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence,” or given a decidedly modern twist, as on their version of the same duo’s “I am a Rock,” the results are the same. In fact, throughout the entire album, the end result seems to have been the beginning inspiration, to pay tribute to the songs but to also demonstrate that great songs do not belong in the “classic rock” section of our memories, but in out everyday “modern” lives as well.
“You can always tell a brilliant song, whether it was written 30 years ago or yesterday,” says Blades. “That’s why we wanted to do on this record, we wanted the songs to be the stars.” In this, they succeed.
Forgetting for a moment, if possible, the fact that together these two men helped create music that has managed to sell over 50 million albums worldwide, whether it be in Night Ranger, Damn Yankees, or Styx, listening to the music on Influence shows that they are both something else, besides.
They are both fans of good music and great songwriting.
Thankfully, the tracks that make up Influence were chosen, recorded, and intended as more of a heartfelt “thank you” note to songwriters that have gone before them, than anything as foolish as a way to attempt to once again catch lightning in a bottle and remind people how “good” Shaw and Blades are, in their own right.
Of course, that’s exactly what they end up doing. Had they set out from the onset to achieve that, though, I’m not sure that this album would be the immensely satisfying listen that it is.
So, as one fan boy to two others, I’d like to thank Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades for slipping loose the mantle of “rock god,” and showing me that they are nothing more or less than fan boys like me.
Okay, fan boys with ungodly talent. How’s that?
01. Summer Breeze
02. Time of the Season
03. Your Move
04. I Am A Rock
05. Lucky Man
06. The Sound of Silence
07. California Dreamin'
08. On A Carousel
09. Dirty Work
10. For What It's Worth
11. Dance With Me